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Ozric Tentacles - Erpland CD (album) cover


Ozric Tentacles


Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.03 | 310 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars ERPLAND was the very first venture into the more obscure Space-Rock territory. After learning to absolutely adore bands such as Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, I happened to stumble across these guys by accident while searching through my record store one day for a Marillion album. I happened to walk a little too far down the aisle and came across a very funky, out-of-this-world cover. It was ERPLAND. Having never even heard of the Ozrics before, it seemed to me that I wasn't going to just pick these albums up no a whim (there were several used copies of the Ozric digipacks on display for five bucks each), so when I got home that evening, I went straight to my computer and on to the archives, where a search for 'Ozric Tentacles' proved successful. After a quick listen to the song samples available here, I was sold on this band. The very next chance I got, I went back to that record store, picked up two of the albums without hesitation; one being BECOME THE OTHER and the second being ERPLAND.

As soon as the opening few seconds of the first track played on ERPLAND, I knew that I loved this band. They had it all; just the right mixture of everything I adore about music: rock, jazz/fusion, world, electronic and ambience. I love all of those genres dearly, and for each of them to meld so well with one another really shows what talent the Ozrics truly have.

I think overall the album is very together as a whole piece, but at the same time I have yet to hear an Ozrics album that really feels like it needs to be listened to as a complete entity. Usually each track ccan stand just fine on its own without loss of direction or purpose on the listener's part (Unlike fellow Space-Rockers Pink Floyd, who after DSotM became very much exclusively an 'album band'.)

Brief overview:

''Eternal Wheel'' begins the amazing ride with electronica openings, drum n' bass meets fusion-style guitar soundscapes, and not to mention a very creative songwriting experience, where every note seems to say something about the song, yet the songs never lose that feeling of free-form jamming, which I kind of like. It's a breath of fresh air after so many Prog bands feeling like they absolutely have to tell the next epic tale with their albums. Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and enjoy the ride, even if the destination is very fully clear or stated. Not everything has to be the next CLOSE TO THE EDGE or DARK SIDE OF THE MOON in order to be alot of fun to listen to. Ozric Tentcales surely prove that fact with their amazing yet unstructured jam music.

''Toltec Spring'' is the first glimpse of World music influence, with chimes, deep, booming African drums and truly stirring flute-work that makes me feel like I am on an archeologic dig with Dr. Jones himself in the deep jungles of an uncharted island somewhere. Before long, though, the keyboards come in as well, giving the very ethnic journey a unmistakebly Psychedelic vibe, which is of course most welcome.

''Tidal Convergence'' begins with just an absolutely heart-wrenching ambient opening with those masterful keyboards, which are soon joined by Roly Wynne's rhythmical bass playing that cements the Ozric's unique sound as just that-- original and fresh. Soon some funked-out guitar playing comes into play accompanying the hypnotic rhythm section created by Roly and Merv Pepler, the band's mad drummer. The guitar work takes the song to new places, and it now feels like a dreamscape opening up before the listener's very ears.

''Sunscape'' is a pridominantly guitar-based track, with uplifting acoustic playing followed closely by more masterful flute work by John Egan. Eventually, Ed Wynne, the guitarist, breaks in to some more fusion-esque guitar wizardry that would make even the oldest of music fans dance a quick jig. The melody soon becomes contagious before the bass breaks in to some great off-time jamming. The keys then come in once again to join the others and make the song another psychedelic trip based in Eastern influences with some Jazz-Rock thrown in for good measure.

''Mysticum Arabicola'' took the longest to grow on me. The initial beat of the song never really has spoken to me. Nothing really changes much the entire song long, either. Unfortunately.

''Cracker Blocks'' is my second-favorite song on the album. The mixture of keyboards in the background backing up the ringing of beautiful chimes plus the repetetive yet mind-altering six-note bar of the guitar puts me into a trance always. Especially effective when listening to the track at night while driving in the car. For me, anyway. I think this track really shows how much can be done with so little if you know the proper way to execute the plan from the get go.

''The Throbbe'' has an absolutely beautifuly haunting beginning, with a vibe that to me is very Asian, mainly because of the types of notes being played, most likely. Something just screams 'oriental' about it in my mind. Before the song really gets going, however, the drums come in pounding away in the fashion of a much more straightforward rock ballad. 4/4 time and very little fills. I could do without the idiotic chanting going on the background, but it isn't too prominant overtop of everything else the instruments are causing to be going on. Probably the second most repetetive song on the album, which is a shame given its very promising beginning. Oh well, you can't win them all.

''Erpland''. The title track of the album is very Jazz-Rock influenced in my opinion, and it is very powerful and uplifting in the best way possible. It really grips at my soul with its use of unusual bass playing paired up with the spacey guitar playing style..

''Valley of a Thousand Thoughts'' Is epic. nce again it reaks of the eastern influence that I cannot get enough of! The beats and rhythms found here all also very catchy if not down-right original! If you are not someone who really gets much out of drum-dominated work, this song may not appeal to you, but I alwayd end up shifting around in my seat as I bounce along to the hard-to-pin-down drumming patterns found within the track.

''Snake Pit'' starts out with a face-melting bass riff/solo thingy that is soon accompanied by some spanish-guitar-influenced acoustic flourishes. Nothing all that fantastic about the track particularly, but some good flute and lead guitar work can be found later, as well as additional string sounds not found on the traditional rock instrument. Near the song's end, the guitar solo starts to feel a little bluesy, which reminds me considerably of David Gilmour. The song's ultimate end, however, is nothing like Floyd at all, which keeps the whole thing feeling fresh and new still.

''Iscence''. Truly amazing. I love this track alot. A very reggae feel to it all, with the whole 'bubble' effect being reached for and ultimately acheived through use of keyboards no doubt. Very, very cheery soothing stuff that oddly enough reminds me of the Andreas Vollenweider album DOWN TO THE MOON. And, what's that? Is John SINGING? Well, while I still may not be able to make out what he is saying, he actually has a fine voice, and I wish he would have sang again, but it wasn't meant to be. Finally the synth effects give a very 'starry', 'sparkling' mood to it all, making this track very dream-like. Great, great stuff; truly terrific.

''A Gift of Wings'' Is the epic on the album as far as I am concerned, the flawless Ozric Tentacles track. Just fantastic absolutely from beginning to end. Even when the distant crowd chanting takes place, it is pleasant to listen to. I don't want to really go into much detail with this one, because it may spoil all of the great surprises. No, scratch that-- it WILL spoil them! So I will kindly let you the listener listen to it with fresh ears and minds and without any certain expectation so you can judge for yourself just what you think of it. I don't know for sure, for I have not even begun to scratch the surface of ther Ozric's catelogue yet, but this could quite honestly be a possible frontrunner for best Ozric Tentacles song ever to be recorded. It's just so majetic and epic, and the majorety of it is simply effects and synthesizers. Brilliant.

So in the end, this is the best Ozric Tentacles ablum that I ahve heard SO FAR, and because of the fact that it has such a huge effect on me and I liked it so well, I would recommend this to be the one to turn your friends on to their music with. There is just so much here to love, that even its shortcoming cannot keep it from getting high marks from me. Not immaculate, but perty durn close! A four out of five.

Happy listening.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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